I’m not the greatest raid leader in the world. I never have been, at least not as a healer. And I absolutely fail at it when I’m a DPS. I’ve always been better at it when I’ve been tanking. But right now, I’m a raid leader as a healer, and sometimes as a DPS. Even so, I think the highest votes of confidence come from the success of your raid as a whole, regardless of your position in the raid.

I think that one of the things that people don’t understand about raid leading is that there is more to raid leading than making sure shit gets done. Raid leading is also about understanding what happened to cause a wipe, and helping to have it not happen again. Raid leading is also figuring out what happened to cause a success, and helping it to happen again. Raid leading is also about making sure everyone is up to par. Raid leading is also about reviewing logs on your off-time when you would really rather be doing anything else. Raid leading is also about paying attention to just about every minuscule detail your brain can possibly handle, and then some. But most of all, raid leading is also about being compassionate with your raiders.

While everyone is quick to call out someone being low on DPS, or short on healing, or refusing to use a tanking cooldown, a raid leader has to be aware that this is happening, but also what the other 9-24 people were doing at the time. A raid leader still has to make sure that even if they are abrasive, terse or otherwise harsh to their raiders, that they make sure the raiders understand the goals, and that they aren’t trying to push those raiders away, but forward. It’s likely the most complicated balancing act that I’ve ever had to come across in my entire career in raiding in World of Warcraft.

When you’re a raid leader, it makes it extremely difficult when you not only are expected to make sure that everyone is putting forth their best effort, and also making sure that as few people die as possible, but also watching timers like a hawk (personal and raid cooldowns, HoT/DoT timers, cast/swing timers, and encounter timers) and calling them out when necessary, and on top of it all, calling out on-the-fly positioning. In addition to everything, you also have to create an effective strategy for your group. It’s greatly under-appreciated how much a raid leader actually has to go through, with it either being a 10-man or 25-man encounter. I can only imagine the hell of a 40-man encounter in vanilla.

My point in all this is to show that despite whatever troubles one might have when they’re not having the greatest night, or are getting frustrated with an encounter, trust me, your raid leader is more so than you are. They are having to also deal with the other people in the raid that are expressing the same thing to them. They also are having to deal with the stress of people getting at each other’s throats, and acting the mediator to try to keep everything smooth. They also are trying their damnedest to get things going as well as they can, without losing their cool, which is a much harder task than it sounds.

While I can’t say that everyone is always going to be appreciative of this fact, I can say this: I still appreciate every single one of my guild members, past and present, regardless of whether we’ve ended on good terms or bad. They’ve helped shape how I lead raids. They’ve helped better me as a person, even, in some regards. There are always things that I can improve, regardless of whether I’m raid leading or not, but the fact of the matter is this: my raid is still more important than me, when it comes to raiding. I may be only one of ten or twenty-five people or any number in between, but what I do in that raid as a raid leader affects every single person in there. That alone is a tremendous weight on the shoulders of anyone that steps up to take the raid leading position. It’s hard to keep a confident attitude, to keep level-headed, to keep on trucking, when sometimes all you want to do is throw in the towel. It’s even more difficult to remember that a bad day on the part of the raid leader can mean a bad night of raiding for the entire raid, and more so to not let that happen.

A raid leader is greatly under-appreciated as a whole. It’s unforgiving, it’s thankless, and fuck, it’s hard. But it has to be done. I step up to the challenge twice a week so that e-dragons burn in a fiery hell. I love it and hate it at the same time. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.